Treat bus riders with respect

Posted: Sunday, August 15, 2004

It's frustrating to hear about more cuts to the city bus service to make up for lost revenue somewhere else. Budget shortfalls in communities throughout Alaska are happening because a conscious choice has been made by the Republicans to cut and cut and cut while billions of dollars lie tucked away under the state's mattress. Until there is a regime change, it's important that we put in our two cents when a local budget decision is out of line with our values.

Could the Capital Transit sell advertising on the outside of the buses like they do everywhere else in the world? The revenue might make up for any shortfalls, and maybe something could be done about Juneau's bus stops. Having shabby bus stops shows a lack of respect for bus patrons and reflects poorly on our community. How many new riders are lost because the system itself reflects no interest in its current customers or gaining new ones?

I am always struck by Seattle's great bus stops. They have the same basic design as Juneau's, however, each neighborhood has a "bus stop as art" every couple of blocks. The top two-thirds of the bus stop is opaque and the bottom third (and sometimes the roof) is covered with art that reflects its own neighborhood. The CBJ could put each area's bus stops up for sponsorship by Native organizations, service clubs and businesses. Maybe the Chamber of Commerce could demonstrate its interest in all of Juneau's citizens by coordinating the program if the city doesn't have the resources. Maybe there's a grant available for programs that encourage the use of public transportation.

Our priorities as a community reflect who we are as a people. While we can value our summer visitors by completely revamping parts of downtown for the cruise industry's buses, we must also demonstrate in real ways that we care about our neighbors and elders by ensuring that they have a reliable, affordable and respectful public transportation system.

Barbara Belknap


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